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Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Human Rights Concerns in The Bahamas

The State of Human Rights and Personal Liberties in The Bahamas


UN Report


Human Rights and Liberty
Nassau, The Bahamas - The Bahamas has made improvements on preventing arbitrary detentions, but further efforts are essential to advance legislative initiatives and ensure effective and inclusive implementation of the laws, UN human rights experts said today.

"We recognise and praise the efforts undertaken by the Bahamas to address arbitrary detention, through ratification of international human rights instruments and efforts made to strengthen the legislative framework,” said a delegation of experts from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in a statement at the end of a visit to the country.

“Regular independent oversight over all places of deprivation of liberty is an effective safeguard against arbitrary detention.  We encourage the prompt enactment of the Ombudsman Bill and establishment of the Ombudsman's Office,” the experts said.

According to the Working Group, there are many areas in which improvement is urgently needed.  In particular, the experts expressed significant concerns regarding the frequent absence of arrest warrants, the widespread practice of arrests based on insufficient grounds or outdated warrants, as well as extended periods spent by persons in police custody without notification of charges and timely judicial oversight.

“We are alarmed at reports of police violence to extract confessions, without effective redress mechanisms,” they said.  The experts also expressed concern over disturbing conditions of detention in some sections of the prison and the mixing of detainees awaiting trial and those serving sentences.

The Working Group commended authorities for upholding the presumption of innocence by utilising electronic monitoring devices, as an alternative to detention.  However, they noted deficiencies in the bail system.

“We urge the authorities to significantly improve access to free legal aid by ensuring free legal representation from the moment of arrest, in alignment with international human rights standards.  The Public Defender’s Office should be considerably strengthened,” the experts said.

Commending the Government for progress made in the area of immigration, the delegation expressed concern about the adequacy of current measures relating to asylum and refoulement matters.  They highlighted barriers to legal representation, a lack of awareness of rights, and effective access to legal safeguards.  “We call for a rights-based and non-discriminatory approach to immigration enforcement,” the experts said.

During the visit, from 27 November to 9 December 2023, the three members of the delegation, Priya Gopalan, Ganna Yudkivska and Mumba Malila, met Government officials, officials from the judiciary, lawyers, civil society representatives and other stakeholders.  They visited 10 different facilities, interviewing 134 people deprived of their liberty.

A final report on the visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2024.

Source

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Why climate finance matters?

It is critical to address the climate finance issues affecting the countries of the Caribbean and the Americas now..


The Bahamas Prime Minister, Philip Davis’ Remarks at the Climate Finance in The Americas Meeting’s Opening Session


"...let’s not forget that climate finance is ultimately about people, not just numbers on a balance sheet.  It’s about protecting our planet, our communities, and current and future generations from the devastating impacts of climate change.  And, it’s about building a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone, not just the privileged few."


The Bahamas PM, Philip Davis, MP
Dear Friends and colleagues, let’s get right to the point.

Everyone in this room is aware of the urgent need to mobilize trillions of dollars in investment to tackle the climate crisis.  We’ve made some progress in recent years, but we still have a long way to go.

So how do we get there?  What do we need to do, starting right now, to mobilize those trillions of dollars?  And how can we work together to make that happen?

From shifting investor preferences to reforming multilateral development banks to tackling currency risks, there are many factors that will determine our success in this endeavor.

But before we dive into the details, let’s take a step back and consider why climate finance matters.

Put simply, we cannot achieve our climate goals without it.  This is true for the developed world, but it is especially true for developing nations.  Whether we are talking about transitioning to renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, or protecting vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change, all of these efforts require significant investment.

We hear again and again that meeting the climate change challenge is costly.  Something is costly when it does not contribute to the goals we set ourselves, as individuals or as societies.

Climate finance, though, is ultimately about what we, as societies, value; the world we want to live in and the lives and hardships we can save by channeling our money to build resilience against the ravages of climate change.

We need to reform the international financial architecture, including private finance flows and multilateral development banks.

We need to make the current international financial architecture fit for purpose to enable low emissions and climate-resilient investment globally, in every region and in every country.

At COP27, Parties called for a transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, engaging governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors.  They also called for significant reforms of multilateral financial institutions in terms of financing models, risk appetites, and non-debt instruments.

We’re also seeing new initiatives from the financial sector that highlight the need for scaled-up climate finance.  We’re seeing central banks form coalitions and networks; we’re seeing financial institutions make net-zero pledges; and we’re seeing a growing number of country investment platforms and just energy transition partnerships.

Additionally, a growing number of complementary efforts on reform are in motion, including through the G20, V20, the IMF and other regional forums.

The number of initiatives alone shows how the reform imperative has garnered increasing momentum, but at the same time, how it has fragmented into disparate efforts.  This reality reinforces more than ever the importance of coordination to ensure the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Reforms must respond to the need to drive progress across three main areas.

First, we need to drive progress on managing risks to investing in climate action in developing countries.  Where risk is real, we need to deploy at scale the risk reduction instruments – such as guarantees, insurance, and local currency hedging and financing – necessary to unlock capital.  Where risk is perceived, we need to address the biases that hinder investment at scale, and the expectation of high financial returns when engaging on climate change.

Second, we need to drive progress on financing a just and equitable transition.  We need to develop transparent transition plans that shift investment portfolios over time, and that enable ramp-ups in climate investments to the same extent as we see a phasing out of harmful investments.

Third, we need to drive progress on managing the debt crisis.  We need to develop a shared understanding of climate-fiscal-debt links and ensure no country builds up excessive debt because of climate action.

My friends, let’s be candid. The clock is ticking.  We needed change and action years ago.  But now we’re really running out of time.

The Bahamas is an archipelago of 700 islands and numerous cays, spanning thousands of square miles.

Our location means we are highly susceptible each year and in some cases multiple times per year to hurricanes, floods, and rising seas.

When a hurricane devastates the economies of multiple islands at a time, as was the case with Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Joaquin and more recently Hurricane Dorian, we are left with the daunting task of rebuilding each island’s economy, including rebuilding communities, and damaged infrastructure such as communication networks, water supply, school systems, airports and ports.

It takes us years to recover – and consider this – in under ten years, we have been hit by four separate Category 4 or Category 5 storms.

This traps us in a vicious cycle: 

We are vulnerable to a warming climate caused by the emissions of other nations;

- Hurricanes made more intense by that warming climate leave behind extreme devastation and a loss of economic activity;

- We are forced to borrow to repair and rebuild, at high-interest rates which reflects our climate vulnerability and our lack of fiscal space to invest in resilience;

And on and on it goes.

In the meantime, our country is considered a high-income country, limiting our access to concessional financing and development aid.

This is an old formula that makes no sense in a new era.  And this is no inconsequential technicality – the high-income designation means we cannot sufficiently invest in our people, our development, and our resilience.

This has to change.

It is critical to address the climate finance issues affecting the countries of the Caribbean and the Americas now.  Our calls for action are strongly articulated in the Declaration of The Bahamas on Climate Finance in The Americas.  This Declaration was negotiated and formally agreed to by OAS member states, and reflects our joint call for global and hemispheric change to the climate finance architecture.

The Declaration of The Bahamas on Climate Finance in The Americas highlights the four key pillars of climate finance:

1 - Enhancing Access through strengthened efforts and collaboration to expand adequate, and direct access to climate finance at scale for all developing countries in the Americas.  This pillar, among other things, also emphasizes the call to move ‘beyond GDP per capita’ to capture climate vulnerabilities in funding decisions in a manner that supports climate-vulnerable countries.

2 - Improving the Terms and Instruments of Finance

Under this pillar, member states stressed the fundamental role of concessional and non-debt finance for the provision and mobilization of resources for assisting developing countries in the Americas in combating climate change.  We also call for enhanced efforts and collaboration to expand affordability of climate finance in the Americas.

3 - Scaling up Towards Adequacy

Here, we jointly call on the Multilateral Development Banks to boost efforts and collaboration to scale up the provision and mobilization of adequate climate finance in the Americas.

4 - Improving Coordination

Under this final pillar, our countries call for enhanced efforts and collaboration by improving accountability and coordination in respect to climate finance.  We call on the Multilateral Development Banks to collaborate with regional and national development banks, as well as United Nations agencies, the OAS, CARICOM, hemispheric and regional intergovernmental organizations and philanthropies, to improve governance and coherence, efficiency and effectiveness of climate finance architecture.  We also call on member states to take steps to advance the calls in this Declaration in relevant fora.

Friends and colleagues, this brings me to my final point: using the global stocktake and the new collective quantified goal on climate finance as pivotal moments to set reforms in motion.

The global stocktake is a process for countries and stakeholders to see where they’re collectively making progress towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement – and where they’re not.

It’s like taking inventory.  It means looking at everything related to where the world stands on climate action and support, identifying the gaps, and working together to chart a better course forward to accelerate climate action.

The stocktake is a course-correcting moment, an opportunity to provide a roadmap with ‘solutions pathways’ that drive immediate action.

Some of the key finance pathways could include fostering accountability of non-state actor commitments, and innovative financing models to tackle currency risks.

This is the year we need to establish clarity on how governments, multilateral development banks and international financial institutions, private sector finance institutions and industries will deliver the trillions required.

I emphasize again the urgent need for action on climate finance, and the importance of collaboration and innovation in addressing this complex challenge.

But let’s not forget that climate finance is ultimately about people, not just numbers on a balance sheet.

It’s about protecting our planet, our communities, and current and future generations from the devastating impacts of climate change.

And, it’s about building a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone, not just the privileged few.

I can’t think of more important work.  So let’s keep pushing forward together with determination and purpose.

Thank you very much.

Source

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Listed Entities that Offer Securities Trading/Brokerage Services and/or Digital Asset Exchange Services in The Bahamas are Not Authorized or Regulated by the Securities Commission of The Bahamas

UNREGISTERED/UNLICENSED ENTITIES IN THE BAHAMAS


THE SECURITIES COMMISSION OF THE BAHAMAS NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC


SECURITIES COMMISSION OF THE BAHAMAS PUBLIC NOTICE
No. 3 of 2023
28 August 2023


The Commission hereby advises the public that none of these entities or their agents/representatives are registered with/licensed by the Commission.  Additionally, none of the listed entities have applied to be registered/licensed by the Commission.  Therefore, any registrable/licensable activity conducted, in or from within The Bahamas, by these entities and their agents/representatives is in violation of one or more of the Acts.


COMPANY NAMES/WEBSITES


1- 2V APP LIMITED https://2v.app

2 - ACEPROTRADES PLC https://aceprotrades.com

3 - ASSETS-GROWTH INC https://assets-growth.com

4 - CAPITAL INVEST PLC https://capital-invest.world

5 - CENTAUR500 CORP https://centaur500.com

6 - COIN FIELD FX TRADE https://cfieldfxtrade.com

7 - CRYPFUND PLC https://crypfund.net

8 - CRYPWA PRO PLC https://crypwa-pro.com

9 - ELITE INTEL. NETWORK https://cfieldfxtrade.com

10 - EURO TRADERS CORP https://www.capitaltrade.io

11 - FINTECH MARKET PLC https://fintechmarket.pro

12 - FREEDOM FINANCE PLC https://freedomfinance.capital

13 - HILLTOPFXTRADE INC https://hilltopfxtrade.com

14 - INVEST PRO PLC https://www.invest-prof.com

15 - INVESTEXOR https://kiosakiguide.io

16 - MERVEILLEUX GALAXIE LIMITED https://galaxie.pro

17 - NARISTECH CORP https://naristech.com

18 - NEURTRADE INC https://neurtrade.net

19 - OCULUSTRADE PLC https://oculustrade.io

20 - PRECOINFX INC https://precoinfx.com

21 - PRO MARKETS https://www.promarkets.fm

22 - PROTON INVEST CORP https://protoninvest.org

23 - SLUNDY CORP https://www.slundy.com

24 - STOCK BASE CORP https://www.stockbase.finance

25 - TRADEZEEFX INC https://tradezeefx.online

26 - TRUST TRADE CORP https://www.trust-trade.eu

27 - WIN PROTOCOL https://www.protocolwin.network


Source 

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Renewable Energy is the Key to Securing Humanity’s Survival

Without renewables, there can be no future...


5 ways to power the energy transition


From UN News


The transformation of energy systems to renewable energy
Renewable technologies like wind and solar power are, in most cases, cheaper than the fossil fuels that are driving climate change, but the world needs to prioritize the transformation of energy systems to renewable energy.

The Climate Ambition Summit, scheduled for 20 September at UN Headquarters in New York, will consider how to accelerate this transformation.

Here are five ways that acceleration could happen:

1. Shift energy subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy

Fossil fuel subsidies are one of the biggest financial barriers hampering the world’s shift to renewable energy.

The UN Secretary-General has consistently called for an end to all international public and private funding of fossil fuels, one of the major contributors to global warming, calling any new investments in them “delusional”.

“All actors must come together to accelerate a just and equitable transition from fossil fuels to renewables, as we stop oil and gas expansion and funding and licensing for new coal, oil, and gas,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) revealed that $5.9 trillion was spent on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry in 2020 alone.  This figure includes subsidies, tax breaks, and health and environmental damages that were not priced into the initial cost of fossil fuels. 

That’s roughly $11 billion a day.

Shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy leads to a reduction in their use and also contributes to sustainable economic growth, job creation, better public health, and more equality, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world.

2. Triple investments in renewables

An estimated $4 trillion a year needs to be invested in renewable energy until 2030 in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.  Net zero is the term which describes achieving the balance between carbon emitted into the atmosphere and the carbon removed from it.

Investment in renewables will cost significantly less compared to subsidizing fossil fuels.  The reduction of pollution and climate impact alone could save the world up to $4.2 trillion per year by 2030.

The funding is there, but commitment and accountability are needed, particularly from global financial systems.  This includes multilateral development banks and other financial institutions, which must align their lending portfolios towards accelerating the renewable energy transition.

“Renewables are the only path to real energy security, stable power prices and sustainable employment opportunities,” the UN chief said.

He has further urged “all governments to prepare energy transition plans” and encouraged “CEOs of all oil and gas companies to be part of the solution”.

3. Make renewable energy technology a global public good

For renewable energy technology to be a global public good, meaning available to all and not just to the wealthy, efforts must aim to dismantle roadblocks to knowledge-sharing and the transfer of technology, including intellectual property rights barriers.

Essential technologies such as battery storage systems allow energy from renewables to be stored and released when people, communities, and businesses need power.

When paired with renewable generators, battery storage technologies can provide both reliable and cheaper electricity to isolated grids and off-grid communities in remote locations, for example, in IndiaTanzania, and Vanuatu.

4. Improve global access to components and raw materials

A robust supply of renewable energy components and raw materials is a game changer.  More widespread access to all the key components and materials is needed, from the minerals required for building wind turbines and electricity networks to elements for producing electric vehicles.

The UN’s International Seabed Authority is currently working with its Member States on how to exploit such abundant mineral resources in international waters as those crucial for manufacturing batteries while ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep-seabed-related activities.

It will take significant international coordination to expand and diversify manufacturing capacity globally.  Greater investments are needed, including in people’s skills training, research and innovation, and incentives to build supply chains through sustainable practices that protect ecosystems.

5. Level the playing field for renewable energy technologies

While global cooperation and coordination is critical, domestic policy frameworks must urgently be reformed to streamline and fast-track renewable energy projects and catalyse private sector investments.

Technology, capacity, and funds for renewable energy transition exist, but policies and processes must be introduced to reduce market risks to both enable and incentivise investment, while simultaneously preventing bottlenecks and red tape.

Nationally determined contributions, or countries’ individual action plans to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts, must set renewable energy targets that align with the goal of limiting the increase in global temperatures to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above pre-industrial levels.

To achieve this, it is estimated that the share of renewables in global electricity generation must grow from 29 per cent today to 60 per cent by 2030.

Source

Sunday, August 20, 2023

A Tribute to Lady Jacqueline Rosalie Fawkes - Wife of Bahamian Hero, Sir Randol Fawkes

A Tribute to My Mother, 

Lady Jacqueline Rosalie Fawkes, M.B.A. 

A Vessel of Honour

Lady Jacqueline Rosalie Fawkes


By Francis Fawkes

My first recollection of my mother was at Fort Fincastle, where we resided in the mid-1950's.  I remember her as being very dutiful and motherly towards us.  Later,  we moved to McPherson Street,  where most of our early development took place.  She made sure that we were introduced to the Christian principles early by sending us to St. Agnes' Sunday school and  church.  We also attended good educational institutions with her guidance and direction.  To this end,  she played a substantial role in our educational, artistic and spiritual development.  Most of all she possessed a sterling character as a moralist, which enabled her to teach by example.

During the turbulent times,  in the transition of the country to majority rule,  she played an essential part.  Mom worked well as a silent team partner with my father in the  political arena and in his legal career.  Temperamentally both parents were different.  My father was an extreme extrovert.  She was more of an ambivert and somewhat introspective.  She played a complimentary part as a stabilizing influence.  He  was an idealist - and sometimes could be over-idealistic.  My mother in contrast,  was a pragmatist keeping him firmly grounded.  She dealt with his finances and assisted him as a competent paralegal in the office.  He may not have been able to make those monumental contributions to the nation without her able assistance in the practical realm.

Mom also exhibited an artistic flair.  She was interested in architecture and pursued a number of magazines with an architect in designing her rental units and the YWCA Hostel.  As a student of E. Clement Bethel and Meta Davis-Cumberbatch, she substituted me in her place.  Because of it, I was able to make great strides in the graded Associated Board examinations.  Mom motivated and pushed me into qualifying and receiving my credentials from London's Royal Academy of Music.  Because of her, I was able to make notable contributions to the nation according to my calling.

As an astute and gifted businesswoman, she facilitated many of the breakthroughs my father and I experienced.  Later on she matriculated at the University of Miami where she obtained her Masters' Degree in Business Administration.  With her skill, she built up the YWCA hostel which was a great financial success.  In her business pursuits,  she often invited me to perform in fund-raising activities.  One could see her organizational skills in the well orchestrated cultural and national events.  I remember performing for a number of those occasions.

One of my most memorable moments was my major piano recital for the Quincentennial Celebrations in 1992.  Her  shrewd business acumen helped me to get a good size audience.  Following  this were impressive newspaper  reviews.

She loved classical music and up to the end and into advanced age she listened with great delight to me playing Bach, Mozart,  Schubert, Chopin and Liszt at “La Campanella.”  Throughout her life - she saw the result of her efforts when my television recitals and other performances were aired.  However, I am happy to say that coming towards her final days the music helped to ameliorate the  pain and stress to great degree.

In my early years, Mom always insisted that I pray and put great emphasis on Bible reading.  Her Christian worldview was basically that of a fundamentalist.  She was never disposed to humanism or liberal-mindedness often seen in secular universities.  In my student days in London, I am grateful that she insisted on this practice.  My obedience was rewarded.  The knowledge gained enabled me to become highly credentialed in Theology and Christian Counseling.  Later on, I was ordained in my calling as an anointed Minister of the Gospel.

I also assisted her as much as I could with her dietary and medical requirements.  As a strong believer in the Lord we often prayed.  Her faith for salvation was utmost and never seemed to waiver.  She wanted to live as long as she could.  However, she is blessed to have lived this long,  and accomplished so much.  She will definitely be missed by all of the family members, friends and those she impacted.  Her legacy will long be remembered.


Lady Jacqueline Fawkes Obituary>>>


Lady Jacqueline Rosalie Fawkes and Francis Fawkes







Home To Francis Fawkes>>>

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Fentanyl Deaths in The Bahamas

Sounding the alarm on fentanyl


Allen warns that dangerous opioid is here



By Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian


Illegal Opioids are in The Bahamas
Fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid, is seldom, if ever, spoken about publicly in The Bahamas.

Now, Dr. David Allen, the renowned Bahamian psychiatrist who headed the Taskforce Against Drugs in the 1980s when the crack cocaine epidemic brought The Bahamas to near ruin, is joining forces with mothers who have lost children to fentanyl to sound the alarm ahead of what he fears could eventually become a wave of fentanyl deaths.

As Allen repeatedly put it, “Being aware of it is life; unawareness is death.”

Allen has documented eight deaths in The Bahamas through his sources, including those in law enforcement and the families who have lost loved ones to the drug, which comes in various forms, among them powder, liquid and pill.

“What worries me now is this fentanyl thing, which is 100 times stronger than heroine and cocaine,” he said.

“You can chew it in gum, you can take it in powder form, you can take it in liquid form in your drink, so it potentiates or makes powerful any drug, whether it be Tylenol, Aspirin, Xanax, your anti-depressants, but even your Percocet, or Vicodin or Hydrocodone, Valium, anything, and the sad thing is it goes right for the respiratory center, slows your breath down.

“If you don’t get an antidote, which is Narcan, within a few minutes, you die.  To my surprise, I’ve come across some Bahamians who died in the States, and as I look here, I know it’s here.”

Inspector Cyprian Collie, who is attached to Scientific Support Services (forensics lab) of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, said in terms of the number of cases confirmed in The Bahamas, “it’s roughly over a seven-year period and we have had six cases – two nationals and four non nationals”.

Collie said, “We are not at a crisis.  We want to be abundantly clear because we don’t want to raise hysteria, but the concern is, what I hope we can emphasize, unlike other drugs, we don’t have the luxury of going through the crisis and being able to respond once it’s already here.

“We know it’s here, but because it’s so dangerous because it’s so lethal, if there is an incident or we do have a crisis, people just [will] die, so there won’t be any treatment and that sort of thing because that’s the nature of the drug, so that is our fear.”

While Collie said six confirmed fentanyl deaths in seven years is not an epidemic in The Bahamas, Allen said to his knowledge, local hospitals are not testing for fentanyl.  He fears the actual death count could be notably higher. 

“The police tell me their testing for fentanyl happens in a forensics way, but I need that testing to be done (in hospital),” he said.

“Anyone coming to the hospital knocked out should be tested for fentanyl.  We had a massive 100,000 people dying in America last year.”

Collie said there have been cases in The Bahamas that have been labeled natural causes but fentanyl was involved.

He did not call any names, but one such case in The Bahamas was that of Andre Thompson, a 28-year-old man who died last August.  His death certificate showed he died of cardiac arrest.  A toxicology report confirmed fentanyl.

“About two and a half to three years ago, the first time I heard the word fentanyl, I was watching a movie,” his devastated mother, Andrea Johnson-Thompson, told The Nassau Guardian.

“I don’t remember the name of the movie and fentanyl was the main theme of the movie.  The Lord showed me in my spirit a huge wave and he said fentanyl is coming and I never imagined.  I never would have imagined.  I never in a million years would have imagined that I would lose my son.”

Allen said he has heard that fentanyl is passing around at some local clubs, and Collie confirmed The Bahamas now has a pill culture.

A fact sheet made available by Allen’s office (with information from the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UC Davis Health) notes that fentanyl is a synthetic opioid made in a lab and is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

It is approved to treat severe pain, typically acute traumatic pain and advanced cancer pain, according to the CDC.  Fentanyl is widely used in emergency departments and hospitals.  It can also be prescribed.  However, the recent fentanyl-related deaths are linked to illegally made drugs.

Fentanyl has also been found mixed with other drugs, including heroin, counterfeit pills, methamphetamine (meth) and cocaine, or even replacing them entirely.

The fact sheet continues: Due to its potency, a relatively small amount of fentanyl can be deadly.  Just two milligrams can cause overdose or death.  It is very powerful and can be addictive.  Fentanyl cannot be smelled or tasted, making it nearly impossible to tell if drugs contain or have been laced with the opioid without special fentanyl test strips.  It is possible that six out of every 10 pills with fentanyl contain a potentially lethal dose.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States, illicit fentanyl, primarily manufactured in foreign clandestine labs and smuggled into the United States through Mexico, is being distributed across the US and sold on the illegal drug market.

The DEA noted drug trafficking organizations typically distribute fentanyl by the kilogram.  One kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.

The DEA seized more than 50.6 million fake pills in 2022 and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl.  Fake prescription pills are easily accessible and often sold on social media, e.g. Snapchat and e-commerce platforms.

Collie said, “Quite frankly, especially in our drug culture, we don’t generally see a lot of persons who abuse opioid-type drugs in The Bahamas, so we’ve not had, for example, a heroin crisis.

“There are reasons for that, probably because people don’t like needles, but we don’t have people abusing opioids.  I say that to say we don’t have persons who have developed any sort of tolerance to opioid type drugs, so in the event there is any type fentanyl, any type pill, it’s accidental or incidental, you’re going to have persons who just die.”

Grappling with tragedy

Johnson-Thompson, who has four other sons, is living with the reality that she will never see her son again.

Andre Thompson, affectionately known by his family and other loved ones as Dre, died in his apartment just next door to her home.

She recalled the shock and horror of the moment she was alerted he was dead.

“I didn’t know what to think,” said a tearful Johnson-Thompson.

“My son lay there lifeless.  I didn’t know, I thought he would get up.  He was laying there, but I was telling him to get up.  I didn’t know why he was still.  I was rubbing his chest and telling him to breathe.  I said, ‘Dre, you’re not breathing, you’re not breathing’.  I was screaming.  So I didn’t know why he wasn’t getting up.  I didn’t know what happened.  I didn’t know why he wasn’t getting up.

“The death certificate said my son died of a heart attack.  He had no known illness.  My son never even accepted a Panadol from me if he had a headache or when he got his braces.  I marvelled at that.  He would just say, ‘Mommy, I’ll ride it out.”

Johnson-Thompson is appealing to parents to educate themselves and their children on the dangers of fentanyl.

She spent her son’s 29th birthday earlier this year in the cemetery.

“I am a mother who had to say farewell to my first born son,” Johnson-Thompson said.

“I am first and foremost a child of God, a woman of God.  I’m the Lord’s servant and I raised my son very well.  I raised him to know the Lord, to love God, to do his best, to serve the Lord.  And for my son to die from ingesting a poison like fentanyl, all I can say is, we don’t know as mothers why our children make some decisions they make.

“A very real factor is fake friends, undercover agents of Satan in their lives who would make things available to them that they wouldn’t normally seek out and mothers especially of adult children who don’t live home under the same roof.

“On any given day, we don’t know the challenges our adult children face, how strong they have to be to say no.  How they may be manipulated and lied to and how dangerous it is to have the wrong people to give access to your life; and obviously, my son paid the price of his life for it.

“He’s not here today because he accepted poison from someone he knew.

“My son Dre is not here today.  My heart is shattered.  His four younger brothers, their hearts are shattered.  We are trying to cope minute by minute.  I can’t even say day by day because it is a minute by minute journey and it’s extremely difficult and it’s nothing but the grace of God that has kept us so far, and that will keep us as we try to grapple with the fact that Dre is not here.”

Allen hopes the message will get out far and wide across The Bahamas so other mothers, fathers, families, do not have to experience the grief Johnson-Thompson and other parents are living. 

At almost 80, Allen said he expects the fight against opioids in The Bahamas to be his last dance, career wise.

“It’s very, very, serious; this could wipe our country out very quickly because last year in the States, they had over 100,000 deaths and the sad thing is, the young people, they don’t want to die,” he said.

“They may want to have a nice time.  It’s the highest high known to us, so we know when they get Narcanized, they go right back to get another hit and then when I heard about deaths of Bahamians in the States, and deaths here, I realized that now is the time to start the awareness; so I feel I’m right back in the 80s when I picked up the crack epidemic in my little house, Knowles House.

“In 1982, I had 32 cases; ‘83, 59 cases; ‘84, 560 cases.  That exponential increase indicated an epidemic.  I was not successful politically initially, but I found mothers who had lost a child and those mothers, their groaning from the womb taught me that I had to go public.”

Antidote

Allen said he is working with pharmacies to get Narcan Naloxone – the antidote – in The Bahamas in spray form.

“I’m trying to get it here.  We have injectable Naloxone here, but I’m trying to get the spray.  I’ve tried two pharmacies.  One pharmacy has got it ordered for me, but it’s a little expensive, but I feel that every policeman should have the Narcan.  Some school teachers should have it, but all our emergency services, doctors offices should have the spray,” he said.

“And as it gets worse, every parent should have it.  I feel that for a small little country, it’s so dangerous for us not to be aware of this situation.”

Collie said while there is currently not a crisis, first responders should be armed with Narcan spray, as they are in the United States.

“As far as I am aware, we don’t have any of that in The Bahamas, so that’s something that I know the commissioner is interested in providing for first responders and police officers,” he said.

“It’s not terribly expensive.  As I said, we don’t currently have a crisis, but it’s better to be prepared.”

Collie said none of the confirmed victims in The Bahamas was found alive and had a chance in hospital.

“We do need our first respondents to have the tool to combat a potential overdose,” he said, however.

Allen said he appreciates the fact that the police and impacted parents like Johnson-Thompson are willing to work to raise awareness.

“It’s not a time for panic,” he said.

“It’s a time for awareness.  I’m not a policeman, but I am saying, please, Bahamians, we can get on top of this.”

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